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With shortages of protective equipment due to COVID-19, medical students feeling the impacts

Medical students have been pulled from rotations to conserve personal protection equipment.

SHOW LOW, Ariz. — Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order Thursday telling hospitals to increase their bed space and optimize their staffing to prepare for a possible influx of COVID-19 patients.

But with that executive order, hospitals are facing personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages already.

“We don’t have this type of inventory on hand. We ran out of masks last week,” one doctor told 12 News.

While thousands of supplies have come to Arizona from the national stockpile, there’s still a concern.

RELATED: Massive shipment of medical supplies arrives in Arizona

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Dignity Health Foundations announced they’re accepting donations of PPE. More information about what they’re looking for and how to donate can be found here.

The shortage of PPE is also affecting medical students.

“This COVID-19 pandemic has changed things greatly for our clinical years,” Shannon King said.

King is a third-year medical student at Rocky Vista University in Southern Utah. The Valley native was placed in Show Low for her rotations, but she’s been pulled off her rotations to slow the spread of the virus and because of the lack of PPE.

“Without students there, a mask that we could have used can go to a nurse or someone else who can use it to help that patient,” King said.

Still, Arizona, like the United States as a whole, is faced with a doctor shortage.

Back in November, the University of Arizona Medical School in Downtown Phoenix announced they’re increasing class size to try and help.

The Associate Dean there, Dr. Glen Fogerty, said at the time Arizona is on track to be short 2,000 doctors by 2030.

RELATED: University of Arizona medical school in Phoenix increasing class size to meet doctor shortage

The shortage is felt now.

NYU told 12 News they’re speeding up students' graduation to help with the COVID-19 crisis in New York.

“In response to the growing spread of COVID-19, and in response to Governor Cuomo’s directive to get more physicians into the health system more quickly, NYU Grossman School of Medicine and NYU have agreed to permit early graduation for its medical students, pending approval from the New York State Department of Education, Middle States and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME),” A spokesperson said in a statement.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbot is trying to help with staffing shortages too.

“To increase the number of available nurses I have waived regulations,” Abbot said.

Now, retired nurses, nurses in their final year of school and those with inactive licenses can practice medicine in Texas.

"My class wishes we could be out there helping and I’m right there with them. Yes, I wish I could be out there helping, but I completely understand the need for us to be home,” King said.

With the spread of the virus right now, King said many of her classmates have had their testing pushed back.

“Because of it, a lot of people are questioning what does this mean for our graduation date? Will we still be matriculating on time? What are we gonna do to catch up?” King said.